Austria: how independent is the new boss at ORF?

The Austrian public broadcaster ORF has a new General Director. The Board of Trustees, dominated by the turquoise-green governing coalition, has named Roland Weißmann, who is said to have close ties with the ÖVP, as its head. Austria's press debates how independent the country's main broadcaster really is.

Open/close all quotes
Kurier (AT) /

Personal views are not decisive here

As long as the new Director doesn't neglect professional ethics, the Kurier sees no problem in the way he was appointed:

“The ORF has always been a battleground for party politics, and its various reforms were never more than cosmetic in this respect. ... Incidentally, it is not the personal world view of a media boss that is decisive, but rather his attitude to his task. In the event of a conflict between politicians and editors, he must always put providing the public with correct information above the interests of the parties. That is the ethical core here; the credibility of information depends on it. And that is more important than ever. In these times in which people are inundated with absurdities on the internet, the media have a special obligation to provide trustworthy information.”

Die Presse (AT) /

This type of "election" should be abolished

Die Presse finds the political cronyism in the appointment procedure shameful and undemocratic:

“It is to be feared that nothing will change in this embarrassing procedure before the next appointment in five years. Then the ORFers will have to justify themselves yet again for the fact that politics unabashedly interfere in their business and determine the appointment of the new director, while generally, the journalists make a genuine effort to retain their independence. ... It's high time to update the current regulations - ideally within the context of a broad public debate, because ORF belongs to all paying subscribers, not to the political parties. There should be no more 'elections' like this one.”